MPIDS Colloquium: Hearing the light: Optogenetic Stimulation of the Auditory Nerve
14:15 - 15:15
Prof. Tobias Moser
Institute for Auditory Neuroscience, UMG, Auditory Neuroscience Group, German Primate Center, Synaptic Nanophysiology Group, MPI-bpC and Auditory Neuroscience Group, MPI-eM, all Göttingen, Germany
Max-Planck-Institut für Dynamik und Selbstorganisation (MPIDS)
Prandtl Lecture Hall
When hearing fails, speech comprehension can be restored by auditory prostheses. However, sound coding with current prostheses, based on electrical stimulation of audito-ry neurons, has limited frequency resolution due to broad current spread. We aim to im-prove frequency and intensity resolution of cochlear implant coding by establishing spa-tially confined optical stimulation of spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs). We have estab-lished optogenetic stimulation of the auditory pathway in rodents using virus-mediated expression of channelrhodopsins to render SGNs light-sensitive. Optogenetic stimulation of spiral ganglion neurons activated the auditory pathway, as demonstrated by physiolog-ical recordings and behavioral analysis. Fast opsins enabled SGN firing at physiological rates (hundreds per second). The spatial spread of cochlear excitation was lower for opto-genetic than for monopolar electrical stimulation suggesting improved frequency resolu-tion of coding. In summary, optogenetic stimulation of the auditory nerve is feasible and bears substantial potential for future application in research and hearing restoration.